Remember those pictures last year that were circulated around the globe looking for the abuser whose face was swirled in an attempt to hide his face, and having his identity discovered? He is a Canadian (shame!) and there will be a documentary about the efforts taken to track him down on the CBC. It airs Monday June 8 at 10 pm PT & Sunday June 14, 2009 at 8 pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.
What follows is an email I have sent regarding the show.
In addressing the hunt for Mr. Swirl, it would also be helpful to address that fact that sexual abuse of boys is also a problem here in Canada. Health Canada suggests that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ncfv-cnivf/pdfs/invisib.pdf.
And as we all know, boys grow into men. But where are these men? Where are these survivors of sexual abuse and asault? For the most part, I think they are in hiding because discussion of sexual abuse of boys and men conjures up notions of powerlessness in a society that usually associates males with power, and the ability to protect themselves.
As a Social Woker in a jail, my estimate of the number of men in jail who have been sexually abused or assaulted as children would be higher than that suggested by Health Canada. I'll say at least 25%, probably more. But we never hear about these men because it doesn't support the preconceived notion of males having power, being macho, as children even being able to protect themselves.
We have progressed quite well as a society to acknowldge violence against female children and women. We have services for them now in even the smallest communities. The shame of being sexually assaulted or abused, for women, has been reduced from the stigma it was years ago. We no longer tolerate statesments such as "Well, if she wasn't dressed that way it would never have happened. "
Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for men. Where are the services for men? When was the last time you heard an advert, or saw a billboard addressing the sexual abuse and assault of boys and men? Would you know where to suggest to your best male friend where to go for help in the event he disclosed to you that he had been sexually abused or assaulted, either as a child or as an adult?
Telling the story of Mr. Swirl is just the tip of the iceberg. Sexual abuse of boys doesn't just happen in far away places like Thailand and Cambodia. It happens, and its happening, in Canada. Perhaps a followup show to Mr. Swirl is on order to tell Canadian boys and men that they too are equally as deserving of attention, and healing.